2016 has so far been one hell of a year for Steve Holcombe. Leader of the Enduro 3 World Championship and sat a strong third in the overall EnduroGP standings the young Brit has his sights firmly set on securing a first senior world title. Claiming a double EnduroGP win at the recent GP of Sweden, Holcombe is ready and focused on continuing his good form at this weekend’s GP of Spain…
Steve, last week you won the prestigious Welsh Two Day Enduro. What was it like racing back in the UK following your world championship success at the GP of Sweden?
Steve: “It was great. I really enjoy the Welsh Two Day and this year I probably enjoyed it more than ever. Finland and Sweden were two tough races so it was good to take the intensity down a level or two and have some fun while riding with friends. I spent two days riding some really cool trails. It was also important for me to keep riding between Sweden and Spain.”
Looking back at the two Scandinavian rounds of the Enduro World Championship, are you pleased with how everything went?
Steve: “Yes, really pleased. Races in Finland and Sweden are always tough, and this year they were exactly that. Before the season started I knew that they would be important races as far as the championship goes. And they were. I went to Finland early and spent a week getting to grips with the sand and rocks, and the fact that it doesn’t really get dark at night. Despite having some issues in Finland I really enjoyed the event. Sweden was great, everything I hoped for and more if I’m honest. Getting my first double overall EnduroGP win was very special. I won’t forget that race for a long time to come.”
Despite 2016 being your first year of senior class EWC competition you’ve established yourself as one of the fastest riders in all conditions. Is it fair to say the season has so far gone better than you expected it to?
Steve: “Everything has gone as well as I hoped, and in many ways much better than I hoped. I guess like all riders you do what you think you need to do to be ready for the season ahead, but for me it was, and still is, a completely new experience. I feel like I’m six months into a new, full-time job and everything’s going great. Being able to focus on my racing full-time is a huge thing for me. The really cool thing is that I’ve enjoyed every race I’ve done so far this year. We’ve had some really good world championship races, it’s been cool.”
Are you able to put your success down to any one thing in particular?
Steve: “I think just being able to focus on my racing and everything that comes with it, that’s been a huge difference. Not having to always get home as quickly as possible after races to get back to work, that makes such a difference. Also, spending three months in Italy earlier in the year worked out great. Just about everything is new to me this year, so I have a lot to thank Alex Salvini for. He really took my in under his wing and helped me with so many things. It was really cool to ride, train and hang out with him. I know I still have a lot to learn but so far everything has gone great.”
There have been plenty of tough races this year, do you have a favourite so far from 2016?
Steve: “In terms of results, Sweden. I don’t know if I have a favourite because I’ve really enjoyed them all to be honest. Each event has been different in its own way, even if it does feel like we’ve pretty much had nothing other than mud this year. Morocco was cool for me because until that point I didn’t know for definite if I could challenge for the podium or if I’d be fighting for eighth. Portugal, getting my first overall win there was cool. Greece was tough because of my crash, but I learned a lot. Finland and Sweden were really good.”
The championship moves to Spain this weekend, then onto Italy in two weeks. Are you approaching these races just like any other? Steve: “It’s hard to believe that in a little over two weeks the world championship will all but be done for this year. Every round is important but my goals remain the same. Obviously, trying to win the Enduro 3 title is what I’m focused on. That and generally doing the best I can and enjoying the races. Like I said I’m still learning and every race is an important part of gaining experience, which is the thing that counts the most in enduro. If the Spanish and Italian events are anything like the other rounds we’ve had so far they’ll be good. It seems like enduro special tests are what matter most this year, which I think is exactly how it should be…”